Stratasys partners Angel Trains to 3D print spare parts on demand

Angel Trains, a British rolling stock operator company (ROSCO), has partnered with Stratasys and ESG Rail, a Derby-based engineering consultant, to 3D print replacement parts for trains.

Mark Hicks, Technical Director of Angel Trains, mentioned that they are proud to drive this innovation with ESG Rail and Stratasys and hope that henceforth, this solution will help to free the industry from technological constraints, and allow their trains to continue to meet passengers’ needs.

3D printed train parts, including a seat back table.
3D printed train parts, including a seat back table.

RAND Europe, a policy research institute, stated in its report that in the aerospace and defense industry, it is not unusual that 70–80 % of the electronic components become obsolescent before the system has been deployed for the first time. The maritime and farming industries have used 3D printing to counter such issues. Likewise, this partnership addresses similar problems in the railway sector.

Martin Stevens, ESG Rail’s Mechanical Engineering Manager, explained that ESG Rail believes that this emerging method of manufacturing will reduce costs, production times and issues faced by component obsolescence.

Different uses of the Antero 800NA.
Different uses of the Antero 800NA. Left to right: Used to mount hydraulic components in an aircraft wing;  fuel system isolator; air duct.

The replacement parts for Angel Trains are made using Stratasys’ FDM technology. A material used for the project is the engineering-grade Antero 800NA, a PEKK-based wear-resistant plastic, compatible with the Fortus 450mc. Antero 800NA is compliant with Railway Standard EN 45545-2, a fire behaviour classification of materials used on trains.

Currently, the 3D printed parts include an armrest, grab handle and seat back table. They have been tested by ESG Rail for compliance with railway standards. Further testing will take place in 2019 on in-service passenger trains. These trials will run until the end of the next summer.

Stratasys Fortus 450mc.
Stratasys Fortus 450mc.

Yann Rageul, Manager of the Strategic Account Team EMEA at Stratasys, mentioned that FDM additive manufacturing solutions offer huge potential to replace traditional manufacturing for a myriad of applications within the rail industry due to its highest level of repeatability and advanced, rail-certified materials.

In addition, on-demand manufacturing is expected to save warehousing costs associated with mass manufacturing, thus providing cost-savings for customers. According to Mark Hicks, Technical Director of Angel Trains, this industry-first collaboration has the potential to transform manufacturing within the rail industry.

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